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Coral Reefs

, 26:985 | Cite as

The impacts of tourism on coral reef conservation awareness and support in coastal communities in Belize

  • A. DiedrichEmail author
Report

Abstract

Marine recreational tourism is one of a number of threats to the Belize Barrier Reef but, conversely, represents both a motivation and source of resources for its conservation. The growth of tourism in Belize has resulted in the fact that many coastal communities are in varying stages of a socio-economic shift from dependence on fishing to dependence on tourism. In a nation becoming increasingly dependent on the health of its coral reef ecosystems for economic prosperity, a shift from extractive uses to their preservation is both necessary and logical. Through examining local perception data in five coastal communities in Belize, each attracting different levels of coral reef related tourism, this analysis is intended to explore the relationship between tourism development and local coral reef conservation awareness and support. The results of the analysis show a positive correlation between tourism development and coral reef conservation awareness and support in the study communities. The results also show a positive correlation between tourism development and local perceptions of quality of life, a trend that is most likely the source of the observed relationship between tourism and conservation. The study concludes that, because the observed relationship may be dependent on continued benefits from tourism as opposed to a perceived crisis in coral reef health, Belize must pay close attention to tourism impacts in the future. Failure to do this could result in a destructive feedback loop that would contribute to the degradation of the reef and, ultimately, Belize’s diminished competitiveness in the ecotourism market.

Keywords

Tourism Belize Conservation awareness Marine protected areas Perceptions 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Oak Foundation, Boston, MA and facilitated by the Community Conservation Network, Honolulu, HI.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine AffairsUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB)MallorcaSpain

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